Those we care about in the LGBTQI+ ((lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersexed) community — friends, family members, colleagues, and neighbors — must confront stigma and prejudice based on their sexual orientation or gender identity while also dealing with the societal bias against mental health conditions.
Families, friends, and allies play a critical role and can take actions to be supportive. Here are some suggestions on what you can do to support the mental health of LGBTQI+ loved ones and community members.
Respect Their Identity
We can all take simple steps to respect the identity of LGBTQI+ people by affirming how they choose to live and using their chosen gender pronouns. Affirming LGBTQI+ people’s identities can actually save lives; a study recently indicated that using transgender youths’ chosen names may lower suicide risk. (Find out about how to help prevent suicide.)
Learn About the Early Signs of Mental Illness
Mental illness is complicated and difficult to understand, but knowledge and insight helps us to be supportive. Review the warning signs of mental illness.
Create and Teach Awareness
Be supportive publicly, by addressing anti-LGBTQI+ language and actions when you hear or see them.
Support organizations and policies benefiting the LGBTQI+ community.
Support Them in Accessing Mental Health Resources
Find information and resources from The Trevor Project, which provides a national, 24-hour, toll-free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth: 866-488-7386.
Share the It Gets Better Project, a campaign to share hopeful, inspiring stories.
Find providers from the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Directory and the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists
Get more resources from the National Center for Transgender Equality, LGBTQ National Help Center, the Trans Lifeline, SAGE National LGBT Elder Hotline, Centerlink LGBTQ Community Center Directory, and Society for Sexual, Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansive Identities (SAIGE)
Seek support from, or recommend a local NAMI support group. Find your local NAMI California affiliate here.
Listen and Be Compassionate
As always, be compassionate of the struggles of others and offer to listen and help.
Do you have insights or a story to share about how support you have given or received? Or are you a member of the LBGTQ+ community with a story about your mental health recovery to share?